Snow and Cold Weather Extends Season

Snow and Cold Weather

Late winter and early spring snowstorms have resurrected the ski season in several regions of North America, repeating a weather pattern seen last year.

As in 2022-23, a March 2024 storm buried West Coast mountains under a ton of snow, with accumulations topping 10 feet in some parts of the Sierra Nevada and several feet in the Rockies. The late bounty of snow out West has ski areas from California to Utah extending their seasons, including Park City (April 22), Deer Valley (April 21), and Snowbasin (April 23).

Utah’s Brian Head Resort will keep its lifts spinning until May 5, the ski area recently announced, and Sugar Bowl Resort in Lake Tahoe, Calif., has pushed its season to April 28, as has Northstar California. Palisades Tahoe will use its mountains of new snow to keep skiers on the slopes until July 2.

Two feet of fresh snow fell on Lee Canyon in Nevada over the weekend, while Colorado ski areas got up to four feet of snow, leading to a shutdown of I-70 and temporary suspension of operations at resorts like Eldora, Loveland, and Arapahoe Basin.

Back east, a string of snowstorms arrived just as it seemed like the 2023-24 season was rapidly melting away. A period of warm temperatures across the region in February and early March led a number of ski areas in southern New England to throw in the towel, but winter still reigns further north thanks to a series of snow-bearing weather systems that have continued to arrive since the second weekend of March.

Ski resorts in northern Vermont and Maine are reporting up to 10-12 inches of fresh snow on the ground in the past 24 hours, and that comes after an early March storm brought up to 17 inches of snow to Vermont, reopening tons of terrain and improving conditions. For example, Jay Peak had dwindled to a little more than 20 open trails a few weeks ago, but has been blessed with 38 inches of new snow in the last seven days on top of more than two feet that fell early last week, allowing 100 percent of the mountain to open.

The late snow has boosted Killington’s annual bid to keep its Superstar trail open until Memorial Day, as well. Sugarloaf in Maine is reporting 30 inches in the past seven days and has more than 1,200 acres open as of today. Cannon, N.H., woke up to a surprise 8-12 inches of snow this morning.

The winter weather is forecast to continue as a major spring snowstorm is projected to bring heavy accumulations to New England this weekend. Part of the storm is coming across the snow-starved Midwest with several inches of snow expected in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where only three ski areas remain open, according to Less than a dozen ski areas remain open in the entire Midwest.

The coming storm could dump up to two feet of fresh snow on ski resorts in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine and deliver as much as a foot of snow to more southerly parts of New England as well as upstate New York.

This weekend’s storm could bring heavy snow to ski areas in Quebec, too, after several inches of new snow has already fallen this week, including about 7 inches in the past 48 hours at Mont Sainte Anne and Tremblant. Despite snow accumulations running about one-third of normal nationally, Canada’s western ski resorts are still going strong, with Whistler-Blackcomb 100 percent open, for example.

A March bounty of 27 inches of in the past week has Saddleback ski area in Rangeley, Maine, back to 100 percent open, said Matt Dieterich, the resort’s director of real estate development, with the anticipated closing date for the 2023-24 season now pushed to April 13. That’s a big contrast with earlier in the season, when Saddleback went almost six weeks with no new snow.

“We were worried before the last storm that people would completely shift into spring mode, but last weekend was one of our best of the year,” Dieterich said. “There’s a trend of people booking trips closer to their visit—they’re definitely looking at the weather first—but we’re pretty optimistic that we will have a good end to this season.”

In addition to natural snow, some windows of cold weather this week has allowed several ski areas in the East fire up their snowmaking systems to try and build a little more base, including Snowshoe, W.Va.; Blue Mountain, Pa.; Catamount, Berkshire East, and Jiminy Peak, Mass.; Sunday River, Maine, and more.

The late arrival of consistent snowfall and cold temps will allow many ski areas across North America to squeeze out a few more days of skiing and riding, if not a few more weeks.

Source Bob Curley, SAM